Last One To Give

I went to see the Avett Brothers recently and after the show as my wife and I were walking back to our car, there was a stack of Avett Brothers posters sitting there as a gift for the fans to take home.  I thought that was so cool.  It was like a personal message from the band that I interpreted as “We appreciate you being here”.

We bought a ticket, they put on a great show, we gave them our time, they gave us a gift and were the “Last One to Give”.

The next time I think about the Avett Brothers, I will think about how I appreciate them appreciating me and giving me a poster that probably cost them $.25 but had much more value to me.

We have seven “Moments” that we want each guest to experience from the time they hear about one of our events to the time they return home from what was hopefully the best vacation of their lives.  The last one is “Appreciate” that’s exactly what the Avett Brothers did that night with me.

I think great people and great organizations find opportunities to show appreciation by being the “Last One to Give”.


Don’t Get Shawshanked!

It’s a Saturday morning and you’ve made your list of things to do for the day and as you are walking thru the living room on your way to get your keys and head out, you notice that the movie “Shawshank Redemption” is on TV.  It’s your favorite part of the movie so you sit down to watch just that one scene.  Next thing you know, you’ve watched the entire ending and since you jumped in late and it’s playing all day as part of a TBS movie marathon, you begin to watch the first part of the next showing. Now you’ve spent 3 hours (that’s how long it takes to show a 2 hour movie on TBS) watching TV and your list of things to do has not changed.

You know what we call that?  “Getting Shawshanked”.

There are a ton of movies that will do it to you and it happens every day in other parts of our lives too.

We crave certainty and pursue it tirelessly even though most of the brightest parts of our lives and our best stories were created when there was zero certainty present.

How I met my wife?  How I ended up finding my best friend?  How I ended up in this career?  How I learned by biggest lesson that defined my outlook on life?

We get “Shawshanked” when…

We go to our favorite restaurant and tell ourselves we are going to try something new but at the last minute we cave and order the same thing we always get.

We go to a party and promise ourselves we are going to meet some new people but we end up hanging with the same small group having the same conversation we always have.

We we wake up knowing the three biggest things we can do to make an impact today yet we stare at our inbox all day letting that dictate our priorities.

We end each concert with the same song because we know it works instead of having the courage to try something new.

Our only options are to either retell old stories or make new ones.  And to make new ones that are worth re-telling, we have to try different things.  I mean after all, as comforting as it is to relive old stories, it’s kind of depressing to think that we might not be a part of any more great ones.

Let’s make some more glory days.  That’s what keeps us alive.

Last night, a friend of mine asked me to help her put herself into a new environment that was way outside her comfort zone and it meant traveling somewhere to do it.  I’m excited to help with this because I know once she gets on the plane, she will have no choice but to accept the fact that the only certainty in her life is that there is no certainty.  There will not be anything to fall back on, unless of course “Shawshank Redemption” comes on the TV in her hotel room.

Impact vs. Wake

Congratulations! You closed the big deal but left your team a little frustrated.

We call that the “IMPACT” and the “WAKE” and we all know people like this. They perform at a high level but it can be hard to be on their team.  I have been guilty of this many times and it is never worth it in the end. So I am working hard to reduce my “WAKE” without losing “IMPACT”.

Here are some examples I have either witnessed or been responsible for…

#) Secure an artist for a cruise by going direct to the manager instead of allowing our team to take the proper path.

#) Come up with a great idea right before the event that requires lots of last minute changes instead of taking time in advance to brainstorm.

#) Have a breakthrough conversation with a partner about a new strategy and forget to inform the team of the new direction while they are working hard to execute the old strategy.

#) Lead a group into battle successfully and forget to share the credit with the team.

#) Write a hit song with your band mates and take all the credit when doing an interview on the radio.

#) Invite someone to sit in with your band without telling your crew who ends up scrambling and looking like rookies trying to set up for the guest artist.

Why worry about your “WAKE”? Because your team will eventually burn out over time, despite your “IMPACT“.

So get out there and make the great dive…just leave as small a splash as you can.


It’s the Time of the Season

My Facebook thread contains about 80% football references, and today when I took the dog outside, I wasn’t hit by a wall of humid sunlight. You know what that means, right? Fall is coming!!

Fall is my absolute favorite season of the year, especially fall in the South. I am happiest when I need just a light jacket, the wind is blowing, and I can almost smell the leaves changing colors. A quick trip to the mountains reveals a tapestry of orange, red, yellow, and light green in the trees. People come out of their air-conditioned summer cocoons and start grilling out again, hosting tailgate parties and spending long nights on their porches and decks.

Fall also means that the Sixthman cruising season is back in full swing. You may have heard, but we just hosted our 25th full-ship charter. Sailing Southern Ground was a huge success; we had first-time cruisers, first-time Sixthman cruisers, as well as a bunch of alumni who helped the newbies find the best late night spots. We won over some new fans who say they’ll never go on a regular cruise again.

I cannot wait to see what surprises the rest of this season holds: our first non-music cruise (Jillian Michaels Ultimate Wellness Cruise) is next month, and we get to work with Graceland again on 2010’s The Elvis Cruise in November. I hope to meet some of you blog readers in person soon!

In between these adventures, I’ll be getting my slanket back out of the hall closet, making some cider, planning my Halloween costume, and wondering whether to try another corn maze before Thanksgiving.

Do you love fall as much as I do? What is YOUR favorite season?

Welcome, Shags and Jen!

(This is a post by new Sixthman staffer Jen Wedick’s dog, Shags!)

Hi! Shags here!

Yep – I’m the new dog in the office. That’s because my mom (Jen) just got a job here at Sixthman. For those of you on the past few Sixthman cruises, she was there, too! She was one of the people wearing a gray shirt and was running around working like a crazy person. Not that I saw her do that, but she told me about it. Anyway, I’m glad she did that, because now she works at Sixthman all the time and I get to work there, too!

My new life here at the office is pretty sweet. I mean, there’s lots of other dogs to hang out with, and they all bring their toys and we play. Then there’s this one rug that everyone pees on (humans excluded, of course), and on my first day, that’s where I hung out so I could meet all of my new k-9 co-workers.

For now, I spend most of my time in the Call Center with Minnie – we keep those ninjas in line and make sure they tell all of you the most up-to-date information about the cruises. That’s where my mom works right now.  Speaking of her…I guess I should tell you more about her. The reason they actually let me write this blog was so I could introduce her to all of you.

Her name is Jen, and she’s pretty awesome. She gives me treats, takes me on walks, scratches my belly…but I’m guessing you don’t care about that stuff if you’re a human. As I told you earlier, she worked on a few cruises and got to know the Sixthman team, so when they needed a little extra help in the office, they called her up!  If you didn’t see her working (on Simple Man, Cayamo, Best Cruise Ever, Kid Rock and Malt Shop), you might recognize her from the Rock Boat. She’s been going on that since 2004. Don’t worry- she leaves me with some REALLY cool friends when she goes on these crazy trips. And then when she comes back she has that weird boat smell – my favorite!

We just moved to Atlanta from Orlando, where we both worked at SeaWorld. It was so much fun. I starred in the pet show (yep, fur-real), and she worked in the marketing office and did a bunch of creative advertising stuff. When we’re not at the Sixthman office, my mom usually spends her time painting and doing artsy things. She likes to go hiking (and sometimes she takes me!), and she’s always going to really fun concerts.

Anyway, I think I hear Danger and Pistol playing with a ball in the hallway – gotta go!

Oh, and I hope you all have AMAZING vacations on your Sixthman cruises! (Honestly, I just don’t get cruises. I mean, there’s not even grass there…)

House Guests

The Carnival Inspiration is beginning to feel like a home away from home, like your vacation house. Even though you spend just a few weeks out of the year there, you know where everything is, see familiar faces and get the same excited feeling every time you plan a trip back. This year we brought some new visitors to our vacation home, the Malt Shop Memories Cruise! And like a good host, especially one entertaining on vacation, we wanted to show our company the best time we’re capable of showing them.

Bringing a new guest into your home always has a fair share of exciting and anxious feelings; almost like the emotions you feel when you meet your new roommate freshman year. You hope you get along. You hope you have things in common. You hope you meet their friends and create a bigger group of friends. You hope you create memories that will last your lifetime.. You ultimately hope you were what they were hoping for. I REALLY hope we did this for our new friends this week and that they’ll go home with excitement and stories to share.  And most importantly I hope they leave us wanting to come visit us again, wanting to be our roommates’ sophomore year.

Tomorrow is Sunday, our last day on Malt Shop Memories Cruise 2010, we’re over the “getting to know you” part, and ready to spend the day with some great new friends before packing up the house. What a vacation we’ve taken together! Here’s to awesome houseguests and the luck of getting roommates that have the potential to be friends for life.

Memory Lane

radioFrom Little Anthony and Frankie Avalon to Gino Monopoli and The Fireflies, the performers on Malt Shop Memories are taking our guests back to a time of innocence and youth. I got to witness the nostalgia at Lesley Gore’s show in the Candlelight Lounge last night.

It was Lesley’s first show on the cruise, and the room was so packed that we had to close doors and monitor the capacity for fire safety reasons. People were standing in every corner of the lounge trying to catch a glimpse of a star from their childhood. She played her biggest hits, “Judy’s Turn To Cry,” “It’s My Party,” and closed with “You Don’t Own Me.” At the end of “It’s My Party,” she had the entire room singing along with her. It was one of those unparalleled moments we love on Sixthman cruises.

After the show I talked to a guest who said she had grown up listening to Lesley’s music. She said, “You always felt like she must have a spy at your school because she was singing about exactly what was happening to you.” It made me realize that these guests don’t just LIKE all this music, they LIVED it. It’s deeply personal to them; they want every chance they can get to see the artists perform the songs that were the soundtrack to their lives.

We are changing times and venues for the artists to help folks do more and see more, and it’s making them happy. I love that we are able to give our guests the best vacation possible, and now that we’re learning more about our Malt Shop Memories cruisers, we can make next year’s event even better, and help people relive their formative years.

Who was the most poignant artist from your childhood?

The ’50s & ’60s Are Back

In case you haven’t heard yet, there is a new member to the Sixthman team:  Malt Shop Mike.

Malt Shop Mike is a blast from the past and has taken over the ship as a “greaser.”  He joined the team on Thursday as the ship set sail and “regular” Mike transported back to the ’50s & ‘60s.

Today was Sock Hop day on the Malt Shop Memories Cruise and everyone was dressed up.

Just before the sock hop got started, everyone was up on Lido Deck watching the hula-hoop contest.  I seriously cannot believe how long people can hoop for!  We finally had to make folks show us their best dance moves, while still hula-hooping, or they would have gone ALL DAY!  Our host, Jerry Blavat, helped pick a winner and then kicked off the sock hop, spinning those great oldies.

EVERYONE was dressed up!  Poodle skirts and saddle shoes were everywhere (even on a guy).  And the rest of the “greacers” joined Malt Shop Mike with their slicked back hair, rolled up jeans, and leather jackets.  It was full tilt boogie up on Lido!

This crowd absolutely loves to dance!

Not only do they love to dance, but they are really good at it too!  They put my generation to shame (I’m 25) when it comes to impressing your girl and twirling her around the dance floor.  I stood there with envy watching couples immediately look 50 years younger as they danced together.  The ‘50s and ‘60s were alive again.  The dancing continues until early hours of the morning in the Doo Wop Disco or anywhere there is music playing.

There is nothing I enjoy more than 2000 people having the time of their lives.

The Malt Shop Memories Cruise is a first time event for Sixthman and Time Life, and having the opportunity to WOW a new community of people and welcome them into their new family is a special thing.  I’m so excited to see what the next couple of days bring, but for now I’m going to join my new Sixthman family in sunny Cozumel.

-Malt Shop Mike

Malt Shop Memories – Starting Day 2

maltshopThere’s two things that are very apparent here.  1.  As Steve said, this is definitely a Sixthman cruise.  2. This has become a bit of a family reunion not only for him, but for many of the Sixthman team.

Why this is apparently a Sixthman Cruise:

We pride ourselves on bringing together like-minded communities to have one amazing experience.  And the Malt Shop Memories Cruise is awesome.  Seeing all these people relive the memories of their teenage years through music is a site for sore eyes.  The apparel is spot on.  The dance moves are sweet.  The smiles are endless.

Why this is apparently a Sixthman Family Reunion:

If you’ve met us you know that our generation isn’t well represented here, but our parents definitely are.  So, we were able to invite them on a cruise where they get to experience all that we do.  They get to enjoy the music, and we get to know that they are proud of us and the work we do.  In fact, one specific Sixthman employee (Becki) was told by her parents that they were enjoying themselves so much that all her childhood sins were forgiven.

So, Sixthman makes miracles.  That’s right miracles.  One amazing experience for 2,000 people.  And Becki was forgiven her sins.  And there were a lot of sins people.


Best seat in the house!

Just like everyone has a preference of isle or window when traveling on a plane;  or has a favorite seat at the table for dinner every night; we all certainly have a favorite place in a venue to watch your favorite artists.

Some love it up close and personal – first row, dead center, up against the stage & so close you can see the perspiration beads rolling down the drummer’s face.

Others love it a little more relaxed –further back, maybe balcony, a little off center so they can really take in the entirety of the show, and.enjoy the panoramic view of the stage and performance.

And I am sure both groups would argue that their preferred seat is “the best seat in the house” for lots of reasons.

However, last night at my very first Kid Rock show, I might like to argue that I had the BEST seat in the house.

I was ushering the show on the floor in the center isle.  So although I would stroll up and down the isle every now and then, most of the time I was standing between the 3rd and 4th row.

But what makes my spot so great, and so much different than any anyone else’s, is that I wasn’t facing Kid Rock – I was facing his fans, who i’m proud to call our guests.

For the entire show, I watched fans faces light up when he started a new song. I saw hands jump in the air on demand from the Kid himself. I saw some of the biggest smiles and most excited faces I have ever seen on adults. I saw hundreds of people who knew every word to every song and sang it with all they had.  I saw fans cry, when a slower song was played and it touched them. I saw a guy propose to his girlfriend – and I saw her say yes.  I saw couples having the time of their life together, dancing all around and connecting through Kid Rock’s music.

I didn’t see Kid Rock at all.  But I saw his music through his fans. And from now on I want that seat at every show.  It is by far the best seat in the house.